Police Raid Bishop

The Associated Press broke a story of the police raiding the rectory and files of Bishop Joseph Cistonea of Saginaw to obtain data on cases of child abuse: “Police raid Michigan diocese while priest faces sex charges.” The prosecutor announced, “Contrary to the statements of the diocese and the bishop that they would fully cooperate with law enforcement, they did not. Therefore it was necessary for law enforcement to use other investigative tools, including search warrants.”

The lies and continued cover-up by the Church despite promises of cooperation are the rule rather than the exception. The only unusual aspect of this case was the aggressive prosecution by the county prosecutor. You may recall that Spotlight reported the same pattern of lies and cover-ups in Boston. The Royal Commission found the same pattern throughout Australia. The Irish government also found the same pattern. In fact, you never hear about a priest blowing the whistle on a pederast priest or on his bishop for covering-up such crimes. The Catholic Church does a far better job of enforcing omerta than the Mafia ever did.

In principle, both the federal government and most states can pursue these crimes through the RICO Act, but that is almost never done. The media never even raises the issue of the Church’s continued web of lies and cover-ups. The Catholic Church is still treated as a privileged institution.

While we’re on the Subject

Another major problem in prosecuting such cases is the short statute of limitations. In Australia, the average delay in reporting a crime was over 30 years. Not only are children reluctant to report such crimes, if they do they are often dismissed by (pious) parents and authorities. In the great majority of cases to date, the statute of limitations has served to protect pederast priests.

The state of Georgia is considering a Hidden Predator Act (here), which will remove the statute of limitations from such crimes. The archbishop of Atlanta is campaigning against it: “I write to inform you of an extraordinarily unfair bill currently pending in our state legislature. If passed, H.B. 605 [the Hidden Predator Act] could drastically damage our ability to carry out the mission of our Catholic Church in the state of Georgia.”

If enabling the prosecution of additional pederasts might lethally damage the Church, just think what a RICO prosecution might do. God helps those who help themselves.


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